Analysing Formula 1 (Roger Smith)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

In over 40% of races last year the top three qualifiers were the top three finishers. That never happeed at all from 1961-1972.

Hands up who’s an F1 stats geek? Judging by the number of you who leave comments on my post-race statstics round-ups, pointing out all kinds of interesting trivia, most of you are!

But I think Roger Smith, author of “Analysing Formula 1” has us all trumped. In this 230-page book from Haynes he takes F1 apart from every statistical approach conceivable.

If that sounds a little dry, fear not. This is no weighty, dry Phd thesis – Smith turns up some fascinating facts and presens them in a colourful and entertaining way.

The obvious areas of research are covered in detail – which drivers were the most dominant in races, who were the best qualifiers and so on.

But he also looks at all other kinds of general trends in the sport such as the finishing rate of Grand Prix participants (which has climbed in recent years), the trend towards shorter races, and how tyre wards have shaped the sport (did you know F1 had six different tyre makes 50 years ago? I had no idea).

He turns up some statistics that fly in the face of conventional assumptions. For example, despite the perception that F1 races aren’t as exciting as they used to be, the average winning margin was lower from 2005-07 (nine seconds) than it ever has been (it was 62s in 1950-53). Ron Dennis touched on this argument in his recent speech at Bahrain.

Smith also tackles some of the sport’s topical political arguments. Under a chapter titled “safeguard our rich heritage” he names the five circuits used most regularly for Formula 1 – Silverstone, Monte-Carlo, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and the Nurburgring. “If a European circuit cull does become necessary it is hoped that the powers that be will have an eye on the rich heritage of Grand Prix racing,” Smith argues.

The style does get a little dreary at times – the bok is largely page after page of graphs with some photographs and the test reads more like extended footnotes than prose. After a while I found myself idly flipping thrugh the book instead of reading it, scanning the charts and drawing conclusions of my own.

That’s perhaps to be expected with a book groaning under the weight of so much detail. A lot of research has gone into this and if you’re an unashamed F1 stats fan, make space for this on your book shelf.

You can purchase this book from Amazon via the link above. By doing so a commission will be paid to, for which you will not incur any extra charge.

Roger Smith

F1Fanatic rating

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